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Child Labour Today

Ending child labour is a huge task which requires great change, faith, investment and co-operation within and between countries across the world. As you are beginning to understand, it is a very complicated problem. There are some important developments which would help to bring an end to the worst forms of child labour.

Introducing laws  or improving the law and how they are enforced have been the traditional response to the problem of child labour. Laws made by the governments of countries to protect children and stop child labour, do exist in many countries. But, just having laws doesn't stop child labour. They have to be enforced. There has to be proper inspections and monitoring. Some laws set a minimum age for work, but the laws often don't cover family businesses or agriculture. This means that they don't get inspected at all, and where do you think many child workers are employed?

It is important that everyone knows about and understands the laws that affect them. 

Many working  children  don't  have  access  to education so they don't learn about their rights like we do.


Education is a human right and it is a way to reduce poverty and child labour. However, 72 million children under 12 are not in school around the globe. Many of these children are the world's child workers. Children who have little or no education miss out on opportunites for a better future like learning important skills that will help them earn a living and rise out of poverty.

Some countries have introduced a school scholarship scheme ...Free education of good quality is a basic right. In many countries, education is not free and the school systems are not very good. Parents have to pay a fee for their children to go to school, as well as pay for books and uniforms. This is not an option for poor families, because they simply do not have the money. They can barely afford to eat. Communities in rural areas in developing countries have the worst education services. Why do you think this is?

Another issue in some countries is:

"There is a great shortage of teachers. There are now 8 pupils for each book we have. Another problem is the pupils are sitting on the floor. There are so many children in a class." 

In certain parts of the world, gender (whether you are a boy or girl) plays a part in whether you get an education or not. Girls are discouraged from staying on at school much younger than boys so that they can go to work or even marry. Parents who can only afford to educate some children will usually choose boys in the family. UNICEF estimated in 2003 that 121 million children of school age were not going to school and this included more girls than boys.

The international community has set itself targets to achieve primary education for all children by 2015.

These targets are called

In a special Declaration made in September 2000, 187 countries around the world made a pledge to improve certain human rights in their countries by 2015. Eight goals were laid down to be achieved. Some of these goals relate directly to education and helping to reduce child labour around the world.

The Goals are:

Progress reports have shown that although steps are being made, the goal of primary education for everyone by 2015 is going to be difficult to achieve. In 2007, over one-third of developing countries showed that this wasn't going to be possible. But, hopefully this will be achieved some time in the future. Until then, the benefits of getting an education are clear, especially to those who have just been given the opportunity of going to school.



Another solution to reduce child labour would be if a family could earn enough money without having to put their children out to work. One way that adults can get a fairer share and a better income is through Fairtrade.

Fairtrade is an alternative way to trade. It is a system of partnership and cooperation designed to ensure that the people who produce the goods - farmers and producers in developing countries, are paid a fair and stable price for the goods that we buy from them.

We know that a particular product is fairly traded when it has the FAIRTRADE MARK. This means that the producer of the product has received a minimum price that always covers the cost of production plus an extra premium (money) to invest in local community projects. It also means that people's rights are respected and they have more control over their own lives. They work in safer conditions and most importantly it means no child labour.




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Indian children at school 

Boys from a community in India




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Girls at school. Courtesy of Wings of Hope [] 





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Courtesy of UNDP []

Courtesy of UNDP [] 




  The Fairtrade Mark from the Fairtrade Foundation []

A selection of Fairtrade products []

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